Have you ever had one of those moments when you're looking through old photos and see one of yourself and think "Damnnnn. Look at me there!" (in a good way!), then remember at that same time you thought you looked overweight or out of shape and now wish you could go back to that time and appreciate your bad self? Did it leave you wondering what happened between then and now? Or do you ever catch yourself scrolling through endless photos on Instagram of honed, toned, bronzed, beautiful people, posing on a cliff somewhere sunny and wonder why that's not you? (This usually happens to me whilst I'm eating chocolate or biscuits and then it becomes abundantly clear why I'm not living that Abs life!). If you can answer yes to either of those scenarios, chances are, you've lost your motivation and you're feeling less than inspired to exercise or nourish your body with healthy food.
"It could be that a cheat day turned into a cheat weekend, into a cheat week"
Motivation is a funny old thing. It comes and goes - and when it goes, I mean, it's gone. Like, wandering alone through the desert with just some tumbleweed keeping you company, gone. Yep. There are so many reasons why we lose motivation. It could be that a cheat day turned into a cheat weekend, into a cheat week, then before you know it, 3 years have passed and now you deem a cream cake for breakfast a completely acceptable source of calcium and fibre. Or maybe you missed 1 week at your exercise class/the gym and now the idea of getting back into it leaves you rocking in the corner, terrified of what will happen when you go back. You might have gone through a bad life experience, you could be having a stressful time at work or literally feel like you don't have 5 minutes to yourself because the kids seem to want you to feed them, look after them and entertain them, like, all day, every day. Jeez. Even having a wee without hearing "Muuuuum?" would be a treat.
Sound familiar? So what do you do?
First of all, the fact that you're reading this means you want your motivation back. You're not in denial, you know you could be doing better and you want to change. Congrats. However, congrats don't get you to class or give you the strength to turn down a Kinder Bueno (trust me). First things first:
What actually IS motivation?
Motivation derives from the word motive. Motives are your wants, your needs and your desires that drive you. So ask yourself; what do you want? Need? What drives you? Think beyond the superficial - yes, you want abs, but go deeper than that. Maybe you want your body to be stronger, to have more energy, to feel able to keep up with the kids or even to regain control of your eating. Now keep hold of your motive and work to build on it every day.
Think about where you are at this point in time. How healthily do you eat? How happy are you? How determined and successful are you? How confident are you? The answer to all of these questions stems from the result of the habits you form. For example, if you wish you were more confident, yet in every meeting you never quite build up the courage to speak up, then that is that habit you've formed. That's become your normal. According to research, it takes around 21 days to form new habits. When you think about it, it's not long at all; 3 weeks - less than 1 month to make positive changes to turn things around. Now think about what new habits would get you closer to your end goal. That might be to drink more water, cut down on sugar or take up exercise, for example. Now measure your progress and hold yourself accountable. Write your motive down along with the new habits you want to form to help you succeed. Stick them up so you see it every day and then use a calendar/draw up a simple chart to cross off the days until you reach 21. By this point, you will have set and formed positive new habits which make it easier to stick to your goal. You will no longer need to rely solely on willpower (you'll still need some of this I'm afraid!) and you can build and develop your motive to move your goal forward. The key is to be realistic and set small, achievable targets that you can celebrate when you tick them off, gradually increasing and developing what you want to achieve. So if your aim is to be more confident, you could set the goal of speaking out in a meeting in an area you feel confident in, or when talking to friends, share your opinion regardless of whether it's the same as someone else's. These steps will take you closer to achieving what you really want.
What if I fail?
Chances are, life is going to test and challenge you. Some little minx is going to bring cake to work, try to persuade you to go for after work drinks instead of class or plant negative thoughts in your head/tell you not to bother making changes. And the likelihood is, you'll probably waiver...you might even crumble and succumb to the Lemon Drizzle. That's cool. You're human. Life goes on, you haven't 'spoilt' it. Setbacks can actually help your motivation - they make you re-evaluate what you really want and help reaffirm your goals, making you stronger in the longterm. In short, don't sweat it. Wowee, you ate a slice of cake - and guess what? The world is still turning, you didn't put on half a stone and no one died. Yay. Don't beat yourself up over it - move on and try to do better. If all else fails, remember this: When you feel like giving up, just don't.
So what are you waiting for? Put down the biscuit, go and down a kale smoothie and then jog off into the sunset.
Lol, just kidding - baby steps...
Let me know how you get on!
Big love, Jen x